IsNot patent

I can’t stand seeing my friends slammed on Slashdot yet again, so I’d like to say something about the “IsNot patent” fiasco. Paul, Amanda, and Corneliu are some of the nicest people I know, and I had the pleasure to work directly with them for several years. The “IsNot patent” is the result of a broken system and a litigious software industry, not the selling-out of unprincipled applicants.

Comments (18)

  1. Tyub says:

    Errr right… it’s the INDUSTRY’s fault for FORCING microsoft to patent all this stuff?

    God knows MS doesn’t have enough defensive patents already!

    Personal knowledge always clouds issues. Most people are ‘nice people’, that doesn’t mean you should become an apologist for your friends.

    This is a frivolous patent, and MS has filed it knowingly. Therefore they (and by connection the programmers who filed it (probably forced by the lawyers, but still no excuse) will be scorned and held in contempt, and rightly so.

    Deal with it, grow some objectivity please.

  2. volvo says:

    "a broken system and a litigious software industry" = "selling-out of unprincipled applicants"

  3. Steven says:

    Reading the /. threads on the matter, I don’t see anybody slamming your friends. I haven’t read all the replies, but it seems to be just generic complaining against the broken patent system and general Microsoft bashing.

    That said, I am continually surprised at the amount of absolutely trivial patents granted by the USPTO. I am even more surprised at the people who apply for them. Surely your friends are sensible people who realise this is insane?

    I honestly hope software patents won’t make it here in Europe, at least not in the way they exist in the US. I’d have to pay more than my annual salary to get some lawyers check every little detail of my software, no matter how trivial, against all registered patents. When it comes to things like patenting the concept of executing a different action depending on the duration of the mouse click or including a "help" icon in your program, these are things any decent programmer can (and many do) think up. Patenting that serves no purpose other than making life difficult for others and pissing people off.

    If I had been in your friends’ place, I would not have filed this patent or cooperated in filing it.

  4. monsoondawn says:

    Oh come on. It’s an insanely stupid patent. This has zero to do with litigation. If someone else tried to patent the idea your friends would still have the protection of prior art.

    I’ll take you at your word that the people involved are very nice but it’s still a remarkably bone-headed move.

  5. RichB says:

    If it’s a broken system, why is Microsoft one of the major proponents to it’s introduction in Europe? A company is only as good as it’s employees, and when it’s employees are at odds with the company there is a systemic problem somewhere.

    Your argument is the Charles Graner "only following orders" argument. To quote Wilton Knight, one man can make a difference.

  6. If they put their names on the patent and allowed this to proceed of course they’re guilty. They value their own hide over putting their foot down and refusing to support this sort of abuse and I have little to no respect for those kinds of people.

  7. Gabe says:

    It seems like MS should be fighting software patnents instead of lobbying for them. Like or not, your employer is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  8. Gabe says:

    It seems like MS should be fighting software patnents instead of lobbying for them. Like or not, your employer is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  9. Brendan says:

    You need to stop thinking rationally about patents when talking about /. This is of course the site that believes that Microsoft can do no good for the world.

  10. BP says:

    Are you sayig that it is OK and that you support a patent being placed on a basic (no pun intended) programming language contruct needed by everyone? What’s wrong with you, man?!

  11. I remember when Microsoft patented real inventions, like "how to switch a 286 processor between real & protected modes without rebooting the system".

    Now they’re collecting a portfolio of bogus patents to use as legal weapons, instead of using their wealth & influence to fix a broken system.

    Perhaps the patent can be invalidated on appeal. Here’s some prior art:

    "A is A." –Aristotle

    "I am that I am." –God, to Moses

  12. Cameron Beccario says:

    Firstly, I left Microsoft almost a year ago.

    Secondly, I personally have never supported this patent, even while an employee.

    Thirdly, it is undeniable that the software industry is an environment which necessitates the accumulation of patents for protection from litigation.

    Lastly, while I myself do not know the complete details behind the creation of this patent, I know enough about the authors to state, matter-of-factly, that their integrity is not in question. I call it as I see it, and take it for what it’s worth–one person’s opinion.

  13. BB says:

    I agree that the "inventors" should not personally be getting slammed – it is the company however that should be. While these people did the inventing, they are not the ones footing the bills or probably even reaping the reward if there was one.

    So while these people may and probably are fine citizens – that really plays no role in the fact that MICROSOFT is patenting an assinine thing such as this. Regardless of the system, there really is no excuse… What is next? The letter Q as used in an equation or operator expression?

    I seem to recall Bill Gates himself saying that no one can control a language (see Antitrust deposition when asked about Java)… Thus the create of J# and the like… How is it that this appears to be exactly what is being done now. Why not patent the use of brackets as well? Where would J# be today with this sort of thing.

    You know, I have been a supporter of MS products and tools over the years. I have believed and still do to some degree that they get a bad rap. That said, this is exactly what people like Scott McNealy has told jokes about (sidenote: I find him to be irritating) half seriously – that Microsoft would like to patent languages including the English language so we all pay a license fee when we speak. I think I owe probably 75 cents now because of this post. Tell me where I should send the 75 cent check to… err 76, I mean 77, 79…

  14. Pez says:

    Couldn’t they just donate the patent to an organization whose purpose was to make the patent available to everyone and keep it out of the hands of money grubbers?

  15. cambecc says:


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